Coronavirus hits business: gyms, cafes shut under new measures

By Sarah Stowe | 23 Mar 2020 View comments

Strict closures are now in force across the country as a national cabinet decision to shutter gyms, indoor sports venues, pubs and clubs takes effect. Cafes and restaurants nationally can operate takeaway and delivery orders only.

This sweeping national restriction takes place from 12pm today.

Victoria, New South Wales

Both New South Wales and Victoria governments had sought to restrict business operations to only essential services. However, the national cabinet meeting pulled back on the drastic closures in what it calls the stage 1 shutdown, indicating more steps are likely to be announced.

In a statement, Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria, said  “The Stage 1 shutdown will have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of many Victorians, but if we don’t do this, more Victorians will contract coronavirus and more Victorians will die.

“The decision will be reviewed regularly by the National Cabinet, and speaking as honestly as possible, it’s likely that governments across Australia will need to go further in the days and weeks ahead.

“The Government can also confirm that school holidays for government schools in Victoria will be brought forward, starting on Tuesday 24 March. Schools will use this time to support teachers and staff plan for flexible and remote learning in the event schools need to move to that method of teaching.”

In New South Wales the Premier Gladys Berejiklian said “I understand many in the community are worried, and these changes will affect everyday lives, and may be upsetting.

“But these decisions will make us all safer, they are taken with the health of all citizens in mind, and they must be taken now.

“If you have the capacity to work from home, you should do so.”

The NSW government is encouraging  parents to keep schoolchildren at home from 24 March for practical reasons. Thirty per cent of parents are already keeping children away from school.

Coronavirus hits business: how does this affect franchising?

Mary Aldred, CEO of the Franchise Council of Australia, told members “The lack of clarity on what businesses fit into these categories has caused confusion, and the FCA is actively seeking clarification.”

The individual states are expected to provide clarification today.

“In the event that your business is not included, you may be able to seek an exemption by each state government’s chief medical officer. The FCA can assist you with questions on that,” she said.

In NSW essential services that will remain open. Businsees such as supermarkets, corner stores, pharmacies, public transport and retailers – if they can maintain social distancing rules.

Manufacturing firms and sole traders are still able to work.

Aldred said “The FCA is advocating that businesses in fast food, bakeries, newsagencies, cleaning and hygiene-related businesses and other areas be categorically included from the start.”

For now however, fast food outlets such as McDonald’s are stacking tables and chairs and operating a restricted food service.